Mini-interview Series: Philomene Kocher

Philomene Kocher is a haiku and tanka poet who lives in Kingston, Ontario. She grew up on a farm outside of Hepworth, Ontario, and learned the beauty of nature from the fields and trees and sky. She completed her graduate studies in 2008 in the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University in Kingston. Her research focused on the use of haiku as a way of connection with persons with dementia. Her work has appeared in publications in Canada, the United States and Japan.

About the poet: I met this gentle soul through KaDo Ottawa and at Haiku Canada conference weekends. She has a humble bearing and you’d not guess speaking with her that she has decades of experience in haiku as she doesn’t put herself forward. Several years ago she did special haiku tea events in a Kingston tea room to spread the good of haiku to the general public. Her chapbook signs of spring: haiku poems by persons with dementia (Soul Sessions, 2007) she facilitated jumping off points and led the groups to collaborative poems such as “sitting around the table/grandmothers/remembering grandmother” and “a blue jay all alone/it might go south/depends on where you live”. Her book has got some amazing blurb that speak for her as you’ll see below.

Her book: still: new, selected & collaborative haiku by Philomene Kocher, (Ekstasis Editions, spring 2022) 

still by Philomene Kocher (Ekstasis Editions)

This will come out any minute. Try direct from the publisher or ask your local indie. (My order is placed. )

Description: Kocher’s second book of haiku includes new and selected haiku in sections entitled: Blizzard, Dandelions, Fireflies, and Harvest. As well, the book includes septenga (linked verse) written with Marco Fraticelli, and a haiku travelogue. 

Philomene Kocher’s newest collection still: new, selected & collaborative haiku is a triumph that is not to be missed. The book’s interior, New & Selected Haiku, contains individual haiku under sections titled: Blizzard, Dandelions, Fireflies, and Harvest. These intriguing descriptors invite the reader to stay and savour each season’s haiku offerings. Septenga with poet Marco Fraticelli and one haiku travelogue make for a delightful bonus. Highly Recommended.
—Roberta Beary, author of The Unworn Necklace

If you like poetry that at once makes you think, challenges you to look at the world from a little bit different perspective, yet leaves you truly satisfied, this collection is for you.
~ Ignatius Fay, editor of Tandem: The Rengay Journal

Throughout these pages, the poems show a poet fully aware of what it takes to make indelible haiku. She draws the reader into magical moments through individual haiku and in sequences written with Marco Fraticelli. I’m sure the reader will agree, this is a book to learn from, to teach from and ultimately enjoy, reading after reading.
~ LeRoy Gorman, past editor, Haiku Canada Review

Breath by exquisite breath, these poems are an ecology of wonder that ground us in our natural home. Each haiku is a jewel of contemplation playing our senses. This is a collection meant for meditation and joy.
~ Rebecca Luce-Kapler, author of The Negation of Chronology: Imagining Geraldine Moodie

Sample poems:

travel photos
still full of wonder
that I was there


still working from home
two seasons of
blossoms to apples

PP: Favourite part of making the book:

PK: Haiku is a life-affirming and a remedy for myself. And, as the poet John O’Donohue once stated, it’s also nice to see your name on a book cover. 

PP: What was your aim with the book?

PK: A quote I included in my book is by the poet Mary Oliver:  “Attention is the beginning of devotion.”  As well, I have always been inspired by this quote by the haiku poet Yoshiko Yoshino: “If people in the entire world became haiku-minded and nurtured Mother Nature, then it might be possible to sustain the life on our planet for the benefit of future generations” (budding sakura, Deep North Press, 2000).

Both of these quotes reflect my intention with my book: to invite others into appreciating the beauty that can be found in the ordinary — for this connection and wonder is a remedy so needed at this time, both personally and collectively.